February 2nd, 2016

[podcast] Meal Planning Made Easy #005

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NOTES

This week, we are talking about some simple ways to make meal planning easier. Do you plan your meals or fly by the seat of your pants? Do you dread hearing the words “What’s for dinner?” at the end of a long and tiring day? This is why you need a plan!

Some of the benefits of meal planning include reducing stress, saving on your grocery budget, making conscious choices about your family’s nutritional choices, and having more regular family dinnertimes.

My tips for meal planning are:

1) Commit.
You need to commit to the idea of planning meals ahead of time in order to make it a reality. Planning ahead takes effort in the moment that pays off in the long term. It’s worth doing, and you need to make yourself take that first step!

2) Start Small.
It can be overwhelming to try to plan an entire week’s worth of dinners, so start smaller than that. Just plan 3-4 meals, or even 2-3 plus one night of leftovers. Once you find success in the small steps, you will be ready to take on more if you want.

3) Get inspired (and make a list!).
Ask your family what they like to eat most, browse your favorite cookbooks or go online and find new recipes you would like to try. Once you are inspired, save the recipes using whatever method works best for you, and then make your list. I like to use Google docs for my lists, but you should explore your options and do what you like best.

4) Just Do It.
Once you’ve committed and you have a plan, you need to follow through with making your planned meals a reality. Take small steps and build on your success. Remind yourself of your long term goals and make the effort right now in ways that will pay off in the end.

This week’s Girlfriends interview is with Rachel Balducci from Testosterhome.net. She and I have a great chat about motherly milestones, insecurity in friendships, and she shares a hilarious story from the set of The Gist on CatholicTV.

The Girlfriends Shout out this week goes to Melanie Klein and her friend Meghan. Meghan helped Melanie get the help she needed for her postpartum depression a year ago. Melanie is grateful for her support and so happy to be doing so well today. Way to go, Girlfriends!

This Girlfriends Challenge this week is to just plan 3 meals for the coming week. Get inspired, make your list, and JUST DO IT! You can do it! We got this. :)

Thanks SO MUCH to listeners Franciscanmom104, Homegirl3000, nneinas, Deadelass, and Gaemarie for reviewing Girlfriends on iTunes this week. I would love it if you would consider doing the same, rating and/or reviewing Girlfriends in iTunes to help me get the word out about this new podcast.

And thanks, as always for listening. I’m so glad you’re here! Know your worth, find your joy!

Links for this episode:

Subscribe to Girlfriends in iTunes
Subscribe to Girlfriends in Stitcher
About Danielle Bean
Danielle’s Books on Amazon
Catholic Digest
Subscribe to the Danielle Bean newsletter

Rachel Balducci
Rachel’s blog,Testosterhome.net
Rachel’s book, How Do You Tuck in a Superhero?
The Gist on CatholicTV

Contact:

Email Danielle Bean
Rate and Review Girlfriends in iTunes
Leave voice feedback
Girlfriends on Facebook
Danielle Bean on Facebook
Danielle Bean on Twitter
Danielle Bean on Instagram

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January 31st, 2016

Riding the Waves

ocean waves

The first pregnancy test I ever took was three weeks after my wedding day. It was positive. I started vomiting pretty much right then and there.

In the following weeks, as I struggled to adjust to my newly married state while waiting tables at a seafood restaurant and battling morning sickness, I lost some weight. My doctor assured me that first-trimester weight loss was not a threat to the baby’s health, but my gaunt frame certainly succeeded in making me look young, miserable, and pathetic.

Upon hearing the news of my pregnancy, one of my coworkers at the restaurant – a young man who played in a band part time – grew concerned. “Oh no,” he whispered to me, “Do you have a … boyfriend … or anything?”

Well yes, I have something rather like that, I told him. It’s called a husband.

Truth be told, though, that word “husband” still felt foreign in my mouth. I was 22 years old, but I look back at photos taken during those early years and see myself for the child I really was.

I survived the vomitous first four months of that pregnancy by alternately ingesting and then, er, rejecting a delicately balanced diet of ginger ale, handfuls of almonds, frozen vanilla yogurt, and Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls. Then, right about the time I received a new job offer and was bidding farewell to the waitressing job with its nausea-inducing platters of shrimp scampi, my husband surprised me. With two tickets to Antigua.

This trip would be our last hurrah, my earnest man explained – maybe our last chance to get away together without a child in tow for many years to come.

After my tumultuous introduction to marriage and family life, at the ripe old age of 22, I felt like the hurrahs were already over. I didn’t think I could stomach much more. Literally.

But the trip was important to Dan, and he convinced me we should go. So we two kids – and our gestating baby – boarded a plane early one morning and landed in a tropical paradise. It was there, in the sun-drenched streets of Antigua, that I lost my gray pallor and came alive.

We rented a jeep and cruised the island’s back roads with youthful enthusiasm. We spent our days exploring gardens and sitting in the surf; we ate peanut butter sandwiches in our room and saved our pennies for one big splurge – dinner at an expensive outdoor restaurant. It had tables on the beach, candlelight, live music, and dancing. I would wear my favorite sun dress.

I suppose the dinner was lovely, though I don’t remember much of it. What I do remember was that after we ate, we played in the water while the nearby music still lingered in our ears. I had never felt such a forceful tide before. Again and again, wild waves crashed the two of us laughingly onto the beach.

When we grew tired, we sat, soaked and panting, in the sand. The setting sun streaked the sky with orange, pink, and purple. I breathed the scent of salty water as the sound of music and the distant dancers filled my ears. I took it all in and then closed my eyes to affix it in my memory.

It was as I sat there, with a nascent marriage and a fluttering baby growing inside, that I first felt the comforting strength and security of God’s hand as it closed around us.

God calls us to big things sometimes, I realized. Bigger than we would ever choose for ourselves. Again and again, He might allow us to be tossed about and thrown helplessly onto the shore. But our job is not to control the waves – only to ride them. To trust. To let go. And to know that through it all, He holds us.

I think back to that girl on the beach and I want to tell her that she was glimpsing only a tiny bit of what waves could be like, but also only a shadow of God’s mercy and grace.

But then, I know she will figure all of that out in good time. She’s still figuring it out.

One recent sunshine-soaked afternoon, Dan and I packed our smallish motor boat with the eight life-jacketed bodies of our growing children.

When we were all settled, I looked to my husband at the wheel.

“Where to?” he asked.

“Anywhere’s good,” I answered. And I meant it.

This is an old column of mine that originally appeared at InsideCatholic.

January 27th, 2016

Potato and Bacon Soup

A friend shared this recipe with us this week and, being a fan of both bacon and potatoes, I was excited to try it out. Happy to announce this one’s a keeper!

Like all my “keeper” recipes, this one goes on the blog for safe keeping. You can add onion with the celery. We skipped that. Also, we doubled this and used extra bacon.

5 bacon strips cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
8 cups chicken stock or canned broth

Cook bacon in heavy skillet until fat is melted. Transfer it to a large pot, add carrots & celery, and cook about 15 minutes, until tender. Add potatoes and marjoram. Add stock and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 50 minutes, until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Remove about half of soup mixture and process in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to pot and heat through.

January 26th, 2016

[podcast] Yell Less, Love More #004

TO LISTEN
Simply hit “play” above!
or subscribe in iTunes
or subscribe in Stitcher

NOTES

Are you a yelling mom? In this week’s episode, we talk about how to handle negative emotions. We all get angry and we all get frustrated sometimes, but the ways in which we express these feelings can have a lasting impact on our families and relationships. Instead of yelling, complaining, whining, and crying, lets discuss positive outlets for negative feelings.

First, it’s important to assess your life and get a perspective on whether you have a fallen into a bad habit with regard to expressing negative feelings.

It’s also important to look for appropriate ways to vent and have positive outlets for physical, creative, and emotional energy in your life. With proper balance, you can avoid becoming overly frustrated and angry and stop lashing out at others unfairly.

It’s also important to talk about what our long-term parenting goals are, and whether or not “yelling” is moving us toward them. As hard as it sometimes is, getting our kids to listen and obey the first time we tell them something is a worthwhile investment of time and energy that pays off in the long term.

This week’s interview guest is Karen Edmisten, a mom, wife, author, and convert from atheism. Karen shares some of the beautiful ways that God has touched her life and shaped her motherhood and writing career over the years.

This week’s Girlfriends Shout Out goes to Roseanne Denardo who wrote to share with me some success she’s been having with her goal of losing weight and becoming healthier in 2016. Way to go, Roseanne!

And finally, this week’s challenge is to approach the coming week with a greater sense of awareness of the ways that you respond to negative emotions in your life and in your relationships. Pick one time when you are tempted to respond in a hurtful or unhealthy way and replace it with a positive intervention. Go you! We got this!

Thanks to listeners RCathgirl and NEKMelissa for reviewing Girlfriends on iTunes this week. I would love it if you would consider doing the same, rating and/or reviewing Girlfriends in iTunes to help me get the word out about this new podcast.

And thanks, as always for listening. I’m so glad you’re here! Know your worth, find your joy!

Links for this episode:

Subscribe to Girlfriends in iTunes
Subscribe to Girlfriends in Stitcher
About Danielle Bean
Danielle’s Books on Amazon
Catholic Digest
Subscribe to the Danielle Bean newsletter

Karen Edmisten 
KarenEdmisten.com
Karen’s books on Amazon
After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman’s Companion of Healing & Hope
Deathbed Conversions: Finding Faith at the Finish Line
You Can Share the Faith: Reaching Out One Person at a Time
Love in the Little Things by Mike Aquilina

Contact:

Email Danielle Bean
Rate and Review Girlfriends in iTunes
Leave voice feedback
Girlfriends on Facebook
Danielle Bean on Facebook
Danielle Bean on Twitter
Danielle Bean on Instagram

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January 25th, 2016

Do You Make Your Wife a Better Mother?

mom mother
When I wrote “Do You Make Your Husband a Better Father?” I heard from more than a few moms demanding equal time. Far be it for me to shortchange the ladies! Today we’ll consider some ways men can encourage their wives in motherhood.

1. Lend a Hand

Even a strong mom has physical and emotional limitations. Pay attention to how your wife spends her time. While you relax at the end of the day, is she cleaning the kitchen, folding loads of laundry, and wrestling through bedtime routines with toddlers? Do what you can to make sure she gets some down time too.

Take over one of the evening chores, delegate jobs to the kids, hire some help, or agree together to save certain tasks for the weekend. Just because she’s not asking for a break doesn’t mean she doesn’t need one.

Ask yourself: Do I make sure my wife gets the rest she needs to be her best, or do I neglect her needs for sleep, socialization, creative outlets, and time alone?

2. Nurture Her Spiritually

Often, one of the first casualties of motherhood is a consistent spiritual life. Even if your wife is unable to spend hours at the adoration chapel, you can be a means of spiritual support for her. Help her find time for daily prayer, alone or with you. And don’t forget to pray for her. Ask God to shower her with the graces she needs in fulfilling her vocation to marriage and motherhood – and he will.

Ask yourself: Do I pray for my wife daily and support her spiritually or do I allow other family matters to take precedence over her spiritual needs?

3. Be on her side

If you disagree with any of your wife’s parenting decisions, make sure you talk about them privately – not in front of the kids, and definitely not in the heat of a family crisis. Children need to learn that you will always back up their mother’s authority.

If you treat your wife with love and respect – and insist that your children do the same – you set her up to be the most effective mother she can be. With your support, even toddlers can be taught to respect boundaries in ways your wife might not think about. Teach them not to take food from her plate, for example, and never tolerate teens who are disrespectful. Nothing gives a mom greater confidence in her authority and self worth than to hear her husband demand that unruly children show her respect.

Ask yourself: Do I protect my wife – even from our children when they disrespect her or abuse her goodwill – or do I let her fend for herself?

4. Say the words

You might think your wife knows you appreciate her, but hearing those words from you will renew her confidence and inspire her toward greater heights of motherly love. Be specific and let your children hear you praise her: “I think it’s amazing the way you are able to get up at night and care for a crying baby,” or “I know what a sacrifice it is for you to drive the kids to basketball. Thank you for doing it.”

Ask yourself: Do I verbalize admiration and appreciation for my wife’s efforts as a mother or do I assume she knows what I think already?

The joy your wife finds in motherhood has a ripple effect that can bless the entire family. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children (and yourself!) is a happy mother in the heart of your home. Make a commitment to give that priceless gift to your family – starting today.

January 19th, 2016

[podcast] What ‘Doing It All’ Really Means #003

TO LISTEN
Simply hit “play” above!
or subscribe in iTunes
or subscribe in Stitcher

NOTES
This week we’re talking about “Doing it all.” Do you do it all? What does that mean? Does anyone really do it? Of course not. But sometimes it feels like we do.

No one can do it all, but many of us busy women are doing MANY things. So many things, sometimes, that we are exhausted. When looking for balance in our daily lives, it is important to consider all the things we do and prioritize our time. Among our many responsibilities — personal time, prayer time, marriage, parenting, and work — how can we figure out how much time is reasonable for us to spend on each?

Well, the answer to that question is going to vary from person to person. In this show, I walk you through the thought process of determining how to best balance many responsibilities, using some ideas I got years ago from the book A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot.

We each need to decide how our time ideally should be spent each day, and then comparing our ideals to the ways in which we are really spending (and sometimes wasting!) our time each day. By making a thoughtful, prayerful, intentional plan for the ways we will prioritize our responsibilities, we can not “do it all,” but we can do what really matters. With God’s help, we can do all the great and wonderful work he is calling us to do each day.

In this week’s interview, I talk with Jennifer Willits, the awesome mom, author, radio personality and podcaster. Jennifer shares some touching moments from her family life, as well as some hilarious ones. You won’t want to miss her chicken wings “recipe” for success!

This week’s Girlfriends’ shout-out goes to listener and friend Sasha, along with a touching tribute from her good friend Nicole. What great girlfriends these two are!

This week’s challenge is to think about one of your many commitments, a responsibility you are taking care of inside or outside of your home and family, and re-think it. Look at the benefits this commitment provides and balance those with what it “costs” you and your family to do it the way you have been. In the end, decide whether there is a new way you can approach this responsibility, a new person who could take on the responsibility, or if it could be placed on hold for a while, OR if you think it’s definitely worthwhile to keep doing it the way you have been.

Thanks to my Twitter friend Dena for reviewing Girlfriends on iTunes this week. I would love it if you would consider doing the same, rating and/or reviewing Girlfriends in iTunes to help me get the word out about this new podcast.

And thanks, as always for listening. I’m so glad you’re here! Know your worth, find your joy!

Links for this episode:

Subscribe to Girlfriends in iTunes
Subscribe to Girlfriends in Stitcher
About Danielle Bean
Danielle’s Books on Amazon
Catholic Digest
Subscribe to the Danielle Bean newsletter

Books
A Mother’s Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul, by Holly Pierlot

Jennifer Willits 
GregandJennifer.com
Jennifer and Greg’s podcast, Adventures in Imperfect Living
Jennifer and Greg’s book, The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living

Contact:

Email Danielle Bean
Rate and Review Girlfriends in iTunes
Leave voice feedback
Girlfriends on Facebook
Danielle Bean on Facebook
Danielle Bean on Twitter
Danielle Bean on Instagram

January 17th, 2016

Do You Make Your Husband a Better Father?

husband better father

Do you make your husband a better father? Here are some practical ways to encourage your husband in his fatherhood.

1. Take Notice

It’s very likely that your husband performs loving acts for your children all the time, whether it’s giving them hugs, making them lunch, driving them to soccer practice, or paying the tuition and dental bills. Taking notice and verbalizing your gratitude for these things will not only teach your children to appreciate their father, but will make your husband’s heart soar.

With small kids, you can say: “Did daddy pour you that drink? What a nice daddy you have!” Or with big kids: “I think it’s great that Dad makes time to help you with your math homework.”

Ask yourself: Do my words to and about my husband build him up as a father or tear him down?

2. Respect His Authority

This can be a tricky one, because our motherly pride sometimes gets in the way. Mothers are the ones who do the lion’s share of feeding, bathing, changing, carpooling, and kissing boo-boos better. Surely we know what’s best for our kids, don’t we?

Maybe not. We need to remember that God gave our kids a mother and a father for a reason. Your husband wants what’s best for your kids too – he just might have a different way of getting there. So he doesn’t recognize the importance of the baby’s socks matching his shirt. Or he lets older kids watch more television than you would. These are probably not battles that need to be fought. Let go of that pressing need for control and bite your tongue!

Ask yourself: Do I respect my husband’s authority as a father or do I discount his perspective, usurp his authority, and belittle his opinions … even if only in my own mind?

3. Criticize Carefully

Of course there will be times when you might notice that your husband could improve in some important way. Recognizing his good intentions and his particular challenges first will make him more receptive to hearing your concerns.

For example, if you think your husband should cut back his work hours and spend more time at home, do not say, “Your job is more important to you than we are!” or “If you keep up this schedule, the kids won’t even know you anymore!”

Try a positive, encouraging approach instead: “I appreciate how hard you work at your job and the money you earn for the family, but we really miss you around here! Is there something I can do to make it easier for you to come home a little earlier this week?”

Ask yourself: Do my words to my husband make him want to be a better father or make him want to stop trying altogether?

4. Give Him a Break

In the end, working to help your husband fulfill his vocation as a father will bless you and your children and bring all of you closer to heaven.

A good wife knows when her husband is near his breaking point. Whether it’s frustration with toddlers or teens, when you see the telltale signs of a raised voice, a twitching eye or a clenched jaw, it’s time to intervene – just as you would have him do for you in your weaker moments.

Blessed are the peacemakers! Separate your husband from the source of his frustration and, without judgment or demands, encourage him to take a break. Then everyone can regroup without Dad having to blow his top first. Part of being a good parent is knowing your limitations. Part of being a good wife is knowing your husband’s limitations, and helping the family to navigate them.

Ask yourself: Do I do everything I can to ensure my husband’s time with the children is a pleasant time?

Finally, let’s never forget the power of prayer. Ask God to build up your husband in his fatherhood. Ask St. Joseph to guide him and Mary to watch over him in his family life. In the end, working to help your husband fulfill his vocation as a father will bless you and your children and bring all of you closer to heaven.

Related: Do You Make Your Wife a Better Mother?

January 13th, 2016

All About Girlfriends

In case you’ve been wondering about those strange posts that have been appearing here … I have a new podcast!

“Girlfriends” is here!
Girlfriends-logo-white-bg

I wanted you to be among the first to know! I am so excited to be launching my newest project, Girlfriends, a podcast for women, today. I am thrilled to finally be able to share it with you.

Perhaps what you are thinking right now is “I have no idea what a podcast is!” And that’s okay. You don’t need to know anything about podcasts to listen to Girlfriends. You can subscribe to Girlfriends in iTunes, but you can also simply click “play” right here on my blog. It’s that easy!

Here are the episodes available today:

About Girlfriends #000
In this (mini) episode, I introduce the Girlfriends podcast, sharing some of my plans and goals. Find our more about the schedule and structure of Girlfriends, and learn how to send your feedback so the show can better serve you and meet your needs. Let’s learn more abut the ways in which we can build one another up and find joy in our unique capacity for compassion, sensitivity, generosity, and love.

Overcome Jealousy & Competition #001
In this episode, we talk about ways to overcome jealousy and competition among women. This is something we are all vulnerable to, and yet we don’t talk about it often enough. We all compare ourselves to others in ways that hurt our friendships and destroy our self esteem. What are some ways we can combat these destructive forces in our hearts, minds, and relationships and instead nurture healthy, affirming, encouraging relationships with other women? Also, an INTERVIEW with Lisa Hendey!

3 Do-able Health Goals for 2016 #002
Are you tired of the “healthy” new year hype yet? Are you overwhelmed by seemingly unattainable goals for health and fitness? Why don’t we take some small steps together? In this episode, I offer three practical, do-able ideas for healthy goals in 2016 that anyone can consider taking on. Also, an INTERVIEW with Teresa Tomeo!

I want to make Girlfriends a useful, encouraging, affirming, and connecting resource for YOU. I hope you will give it a listen and let me know what you think. I need your feedback and suggestions to make this new project the very best it can be!

Thank you for your support.